Wednesday, 21 December 2011

“David Noone sings Nick Cave”

My cooperation with David has a quite a long history as most of you already know (lots of photographs for publicity purposes). Just a few words for those of you who are here for the first time - David is a Dublin based writer, musician, actor and long time collaborator with the artistic collective The Colour and Form Factory.
A few days ago he came to my small studio. This time we wanted to create a promotional portraits for “David Noone sings Nick Cave” performance which will take a place in February 2012 in Ranelagh Arts Centre. This show is curated by Tony Strickland - independent art curator.

Above are two photographs of my choice. Its an ongoing assignment so please keep following this blog, facebook website, tweeter and google+ (recently created) for updates (links on the top of this page) .
And some technical info at the end: all taken on Kodak TMax 400 at box speed with a little help of Metz 45Cl-4 flash gun on the left with small soft box on it.

It also may be the last post this year on my blog so I’ll take an opportunity to wish all very Happy Christmas and best of luck in New Year! 
Thank you for being here!!! :)

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Paper Negatives and...(tests)

Looks like some drugs (one particularly) started to fill not only my veins but also entire space around me ;) ... Let me explain however everything from the beginning. About a week ago i took a couple of photographs on paper instead of film. That’s my first attempt to paper negatives. It’s a modern version of “Calotype”, an old process invented by Fox Talbot in September 1840 in which photographic paper is exposed directly using large-format camera. Such a paper is processed in darkroom where it gives negative (on paper) and then final positive print by making contact print. Easy peasy ...almost ;)

I used Ilford Multigrade IV RC Pearl Deluxe paper (cut to 4x5 format)  which is very simple to handle due to quite fast drying and being flat during that process.
In case of paper negatives speed (ISO) is about 6. Quite slow but still faster than wet plate collodion  for example introduced about 10 years latter ;)

So photographs has been taken...

Here I can come back to my “drug story” from the beginning of this post ;D
I decided to give a try... Coffee  development (again, haha) which obviously is equal to darkroom printing in this case ;)

Very different proportions than in case of film dev process..

250 ml water
2 tsp of washing soda
3 tsp of caffe
1 tsp of vitamin C

Of course everything can be adjusted according to required amount of liquid. I was processing my papers in 500ml.

paper negative developed in Caffenol-C

It’s a veeery slow process comparing to when I use normal chemistry. First shades of the image appears after about 3-4 minutes...then image was ready after about 10minutes (!).
As a comparison - week ago i took couple of photographs on the same paper and I processed them in Ilford Multigrade paper developer. They were ready in 1.5min

Anyway - I have negatives. Time to create proper print.
Mentioned before photograph taken week ago was presented on my Facebook page. This one was processed in Ilford Multigrade paper Developer  (click HERE please) and then inverted in photoshop to create positive. All looks great but Photoshop is not the right way.
Below is the other one created the same day... you know this photograph from my older post but it was taken on normal film back then ;)

paper negative developed in Ilford Multigrade paper developer

positive image created by negative's inversion in PS

I set my darkroom last night to process and print the other photograph taken yesterday (first image in this post).
Contact print is made by creating sandwich with clear paper and paper negative sticked together on emulsion side. Negative must be obviously on the top.
Exposure and hight of the lamp (enlarger head) is another crucial element in this process. It will provide differences in contrast of final image. I had a rather limited time so i could make just a 2 tests. One with 2 sec exposure and second with 4 sec. The last one was quite good but not good enough. Lack of contrast ...It only means I will have to come back to it ;)

 wet print in Caffenol-C 
Differences?’s again depends on what you prefer. With paper negatives, traditional development gives quite strong contrast which usually I like. Coffee development gives however more details, nice brownish tint on paper but not enough contrast...

I am sure that something is not working here properly but don't know what. It may be soda again as in case of Caffenol-C-L ...or something else.
Before i tried it I spoke to Damian Dzialoszynski , photographer who is experimenting a lot with these materials (click HERE  please to see his blog). His prints full of fantastic blacks and shades and generally great contrasts where ready after a few seconds... (???)

Will have to work it out definitely. Its all constant learning curve ...
If somebody who is reading this post had a different experience or some advice you are more then welcome to post it here or contact me directly. Thanks a lot!

1. negative in Caffenol (first image) with positive print (last image) - The Irish Waterways Visitor Centre by OPW.

2. paper negative in Ilford Multigrade  Paper Developer with positive created in PS - Bolland Mills.
Here is link to my older blog post about it with the same photograph recorded on traditional negative (as a comparison):  please click HERE

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

...on the go (one day)

5am. I could not sleep... 

After a few minutes of looking at the room's ceiling I grabbed my bag and left hotel...City wakes up.  First cars on the street and wonderful smell of coffee from just opened coffee shops. Ten minutes with espresso and a cigarette over the corner ...good moment to load the film as well ;)
Then...there was just a walk through morning mist.

Waterloo Bridge
(Ilford Pan F Plus 50 in Caffenol-C-M)
National Theatre
 (Ilford Pan F Plus 50 in Caffenol-C-M)
On the River Thames bank
 (Ilford Delta 400 in Caffenol-C-L)

Thursday, 17 November 2011

Espresso...(tests with Caffenol-C-L for fast films)

Enjoying quiet days after really busy time related to my last exhibition  I decided to do small experiments from my list ;). Alternative ways of developing are on the top of it. Described some time ago Caffenol-C-M became my favourite developer for slow and medium speed films. It gives results unreachable for other developers available on merket.
It is a time for faster films now and Caffenol-C-L. I have a box of undeveloped negatives. Some of them are even 2 years old. Its a good moment to work it out and try new methods as well. I grabbed roll of Trix (135) for a start.
Chemistry is the same as in case of Caffenol-C-M. Proportions are  different and Potassium Bromide (Kbr) has to be added. (all taken from Caffenol blog /please click the link/)

proportions for 0.5l:
- 8g of washing soda (has to be water free)
- 5g of vitamin C
- 20g of instant coffee
- 0.5g of Potassium Bromide (Kbr)

It is stand dev. 70min with 10 gentle turns at the beginning, 20°C. About 5 min of pre-soaking is recommended to promote even development.  I am always pre-soaking (even before using traditional dev methods) so it is kind of routine for me.
Long waiting time to see the results.
Unfortunately all the excitement has gone when i took out completely empty roll from dev tank. What went wrong? ...
Caffenol-C-L is a very strict developer. All ingredients has to be perfectly prepared and measured. I did everything exactly as it has to be done.
I decided to contact Reinhold, author of Caffenol blog .
He advised me to check bits and pieces i wasn't really aware of. One of them it was to ensure a type of washing soda I am using. I tested it in the oven. 100g of washing soda on the tray in 120°C. After a while I noticed a water allover soda on the tray.

washing soda in the oven (with water)
That’s it! Caffenol-C-L require water free soda! To be honest i didn’t know that washing soda I am using has water in it...especially when it works perfectly with Caffenol-C-M where theoretically water free soda should be used as well.
Anyway, after a bit over an hour I took the tray out of the oven. I checked weight of soda again - Only 38g!
There was almost 2/3 of water in it obviously.

washing soda after over an hour heating
After that I repeated all developing process. This time everything went perfectly.
Below you can see result. This photograph was taken about year ago in Wicklow Mountains.

Wicklow Mountains. Nikon F5, TriX 400 (135) in Caffenol-C-L
After TriX I developed roll of Ilford Delta 400 (120), just a couple of months old. The same proportion, time and temperature as in case of TriX.

Killruddery Gardens, Yashica Mat 124G, Ilford Delta 400 (120) in Caffenol-C-L
According to Reinhold's advice I can add relatively more soda instead of drying it. It would be better to have waterfree soda of course but this method works quite well.
I assume the same will be with Caffenol-C-H. Will try it tomorrow. You can follow my facebook  website to see the results. Thanks!

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

"Coffee Flavour" - exhibition

"Coffee Flavour" is on the walls of Ranelagh Arts Centre Gallery. It’s doesn't really mean that the project is finished. I will definitely continue to work on it as long as I will have people happy to seat in the front of my camera with a cup of coffee...and they will be ready to expose their minds ;)

Most of you know what this project is about however here you can see a short note from the exhibition:

The idea of “Coffee flavour” project (carried on since 2009) was inspired by film “Coffee and cigarettes” by Jim Jarmusch. Presented series are portraits of personalities rather than people themselves, personalities shown through human thoughts and the moments in which they were born, quiet moments of contemplation.
Time with a cup of coffee itʼs time to focus and clear your mind, to hunker down and get ready for the day. It is simultaneously a wonderful way to relax and to lose touch with reality for a moment, time to slow down and recharge, time for “Coffee flavour “.

All presented photographs are silver-gelatin prints on Ilford Multigrade IV RC Deluxe Pearl paper. Printing itself took over a week which is quite a short time as for 21 prints. I am pleased with the result and appreciate all good feedback I received after all!


phot. Rafal Kostrzewa (three photographs above)

The opening night (07/11/2011 7pm) it was a very special event with lots of fantastic people. Thank you very much for coming in!!!
I would like to thank especially Mel, a good friend of mine for wonderful introduction, Sarah, David, Sara, and Terry from the Gallery, Sylwia, Artur, Bart and Luis for helping me before the opening and of course all models!

phot. Monika Sikora

phot. Edita Malenko

At the end fantastic underground video footage by Andy Sullivan. Thanks for that mate!

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Art of concrete

Visiting another modernist treasure I came back to Trinity College campus. Beside already well known Berkeley Library stands much younger structure - Arts and Social Science building, designed also by ABK Architects (completed in 1978 as a result of competition in 1969)

Main Hall
Mysterious dark maze of corridors full of vertical and horizontal planes, amazing textures and ubiquitous fair-faced concrete. Truly beautiful building but at the same time very hard place to photograph. I will explain it at the end in “technicalities” section.
Building often used for conferences and public lectures includes also Douglas Hyde Gallery , the Lecky Library and several administrative offices. 
I had to split my visit into two days. An extra time was required to obtain permission to photograph Gallery due to current art exhibition. It's a very special place with amazing proportions and overall feeling which makes it work of art in itself.
I would like to thank to TCD's Communications Office, Gallery’s Curatorial Assistant and Gallery’s Director. Really appreciate all your help! Many thanks to security staff as well.

Douglas Hyde Gallery

... technicalities:
4x5 equipment It’s  a standard for this project. Calumet CC-400, Schneider-Kreuznach Super-Angulon 90mm 8.0 lens and  Fomapan 100@64 4x5 film developed later in my favourite recently Caffenol-c-m.
I mentioned above some technical dificulties during this session. Obviously this wonderful dim light (fantastic especially in such an amazing interior) filling the space is extremely hard to deal with when all photographs has to be neatly composed on rather dark view camera’s ground glass, looking through perfect but also dark Super-Angulon lens...f8

Settings for all shots were almost the same: f16 i 30sec exposure
After developing of negatives, scanning and first edition (with few bad surprises) I decided to come back to Douglas Hyde Gallery in order to recompose the most interesting for me photograph. It was actually this morning...third visit.

Saturday, 8 October 2011

The Winner...

The time to present my winning entry in the competition mentioned already on my facebook webpage and twitter has come.
“Film House” is a photograph of the year in “Time” category by “B+W Photography”  magazine.

Film House
I had a really good run this year as five of my photographs were shortlisted in three categories of four I entered, including three images in “Time” category  (maximum amount of entries per one category). That was already a big success. 

This prize have a special meaning for me... “Black+White Photographer of the Year” is a very important international competition.
Beside that “Film House” is a statement.  It shows every aspect of photography I represent - subject, atmosphere and literally my devotion to celluloid (film photography).
It was already published in “Posi+tive” magazine, “Archipelag” magazine (as a cover for the article “passage of time”) and RedBubble blog with best street photography and photojournalism on RB. Now it is in B+W Photography magazine (November issue).

Below you can see my other four entries shortlisted in Black+White Photographer of the Year  2011 edition:  

Time category
James Joyce

People category
People on the street

City category
Screen Cinema

My congratulations to all other nine winners!!! It was very good to meet you last Thursday (all off you who could attend the opening) and see your fantastic pieces. Well done!
Many thanks to organizers, sponsors (in my case it's Leica Store Mayfair) and first of all "B+W Photography" magazine!

footage from the exhibition opening night  (update 14/10/2011)

The winning photographs are exhibited at theprintspace Gallery, 74 Kingsland Road, London ED 8DL from 7 to 26 October.

theprintspace gallery, opening night

If you are in London or if you will be there in next three weeks please visit theprintspace!

Sunday, 2 October 2011

What's left?

Saturday morning (week ago)... After a few minutes in the train i was in Tara Street with all my equipment. Then just a short walk over the Liffey, couple of minutes conversation with security at the entrance and I was in the lift going to the 15th floor of.... Liberty Hall, ready to shoot this important Dublin’s landmark.

A few basic facts - building was deigned by Desmond Rea O’Kelly (1923-2011). Construction of this modern and translucent building began in the early 1960s and was completed in 1965.  It was very Simple and solid structure with non-reflective glass that you could see through the corners, with beautiful mosaic under the glazing on each floor and viewing platform (open to public) on the top (16th) floor.  
It was the first high-rise building in Dublin.

stairs in-between 15th and 16th floor lever with wonderful mosaics 
 An incident in 1972 changed everything irreparably. UVF (Ulster Volunteer Force) car bomb explosion led to dramatic changes in overall aesthetic of Liberty Hall and the way the building was operating. Original glazing, mostly destroyed in explosion, was replaced with reflective, silver coated windows. Viewing Platform was closed. Also water-resistant coating was applied over the mosaic on all elevations. Texture of mosaic is still visible if one come closer.
Nobody was looking after the building since many years which led into the way how it looks now - cracks in the windows,  dilapidated parts of facades...
Sadly it become one of the most unpopular structure in Dublin.

I mentioned this building about year ago in my “before they will vanish...” post (clikc HERE please to read it). You can find there (at the bottom of the post)  a link to wonderful documentary about “Liberty Hall” by Paddy Cahill. It says everything about this fantastic structure and its history. I really recommend to watch it!

It is still possible that building will disappear from Dublin’s panorama. That would be a shame. Its simple structure and versatile design makes it very easy to restore, bring back to its original stage and make it shine again.
Nobody knows however how the future of Liberty Hall looks like ...
We are loosing lots of precious buildings nowadays. It's a piece of history. One day we will just ask ourselves - what's left?

doors from staircase to corridor
view form the landing in-between 8th and 9th floor level
I want to thank to Liberty Hall Property Management for giving me permission to spend there quite a long time with my cameras where I could walk through communication area (narrow corridors and staircases) of the office part of the building. it was still very limited access but I am very happy that i was there.

Technicalities at the end...
this time 2 cameras: Calumet CC-400 and Craflex Crown Graphic, 2 lenses: Schneider-Kreuznach Symmar-S 150mm 5.6 and Schneider-Kreuznach Super-Angulon 90mm 8.0 and 2 films: Fomapan 100@64  4x5 and Kodak T-Max 100 4x5, both developed in Caffenol. I was trying to find out if Kodak T-Max will give me better results in creating images for this series and it didn’t happen. I must admit that Fomapan 100 4x5 souped in Caffenol is just superb.

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Concrete Beauty...

This post is a beginning of my new series of photographs dedicated to modernist architecture in Ireland. I will try to create a photo archive with the most interesting objects from that time.
The first choice was an obvious for me for a few reasons...
Berkeley Library - Paul Koralek’s winning entry for the international design competition (June 1961) for a new library building representing the 20th century. Scheme was developed with later Paul’s business partners Peter Ahrends and Richard Burton. "ABK Architects" - a trio of genuine designers devoted to idea of new human-centred modernism where architecture is about people and their lives, about making spaces that have relationship with the activity they contain.
I met Paul a few times when I was a part of ABK’s team here in Dublin (2004-2006). Truly remarkable time with very creative and talented people.
Berkeley is ABK’s one of the first significant built works (beside Chichester Theological College, UK).
This Concrete Beauty (1967) is quietly resting since over 40 years in the middle of town behind the trees and walls of "TCD’s" other buildings from 18th and 19th century.
Photographed from outside by many people including me (it seams to be my favorite model) remains a mystery as an interior space. I was there once with our office (ABK) tour. Now, after almost 5 years I decided to come back with camera. Here I would like to thank librarians from Berkeley Librarian’s Office and security staff for making it happen.
Over 2 hours of wandering through the heart of this amazing structure it was just enough to get the feeling back, the one I had when I saw this place for the first time. Breathtaking design. I tried to absorb every single square meter I stepped on however the amount of  details and  simultaneously flying time was a bit destructing. I started from the top floor - beautifully sculptured reading area. Then I went slowly down through the first floor reading area and ground floor entrance space to the basement, place where Berkeley is connected with Arts Building (by ABK) and Ussher Library (by McCullough Mulvin Architects and KMD Architecture). That was the last stop of my “journey”... but certainly not the last time visiting Berkeley with camera ;) I have to get ready for a session with another model made of concrete this Saturday.

Link to ABK’s website:"HERE"


At the end some technicalities:  all photographs were taken with Calumet CC-400 4x5 large format camera with Schneider-Kreuznach Symmar-S 150mm 5.6 lens. Film Fomapan 100  4x5 was developed in Caffenol-c-m and negatives scanned with Epson V700 photo

Thank you!

Sunday, 4 September 2011

Boland's Mill

View from roof terrace of adjoining apartment building (2011)/on Fomapan 100

"Boland's Flour Mill still stands today, an austere six storey cut-stone storehouse built to store grain and flour by the Boland's family in the 1830s. It boasts 250 wooden windows, with excellent views over MacMahon Bridge and the Grand Canal Dock. Many of the old wooden hoppers and milling machines are still present within the building. Towering above the storehouse and its ancillary kiln and mills, are three industrial Gotham-like silos of reinforced concrete, pitched in the 1940s." (info:
It's wonderful Building and Dublin’s significant landmark.

View from Grand Canal Dock Dart Station (2011)/on Fomapan 100
I think the important question i am asking whenever i am talking about old, precious buildings nowadays is their future. They're sadly disappearing...
Boland’s Mill is deserted since about 10 years . Very central location, easy public access, its size, character and nature makes it wonderful candidate for incredible cultural space similar to Tate Modern
 in London.
Available online visualizations however suggests that this future may look different. Not necessarily well. Please click HERE (quite nice project however not as a replacement for existing historical site)

View from Grand Canal Quay (2011)/on Fomapan 100
Building, owned by National Treasury Management Agency and of course the National Asset Management Agency (NAMA)...(as far as i know) is destined to be part of a hotel and office complex...again :(  The good part (which I found out just after seeing and reading about new ideas for this place) is that Boland’s Mill is listed as a protected structure (!) by Dublin City Councill  :)
What will happen then? Time will tell...

View from Barrow Street (2010) /on kodak Portra 400@800
I live almost beside which makes easier to have a closer look. Internal access is denied. Below however are links to one of a few galleries with photographs taken actually inside ...really worth to look at.
Please click HERE.

Sunday, 21 August 2011

Next weekend in St.Stephen's Green

Just a few days left to Peoples Photography 2011 in Stephen's Green. Lots of fantastic photographs to look at, to buy and good opportunity to talk to their authors.
I will show there some of my favourite pieces all set in one series called “Places” (just like last year), including couple of photographs i wasn't exhibiting during 2010 edition.
Hope to see you there! ;)

27th - 28th of August, Spot 110 again (across The Shelbourne Hotel), 9am-6pm

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

The power of coffee

I just finished scanning negatives developed in “coffee”...certainly not the one I am drinking at the moment ;)
Caffenol is a home made film developer based on instant coffee (NOT decaf). Very new and exciting experiment even if such a way of developing is well known since while. I bought all ingredients after very short online research. I've had a some trouble finding washing soda but got it on ebay at last. Here i need to point very halpful websites: Caffenol blog and Maciek Lesniak Fotografia (in polish). Good set of information!

instant coffee, pure vitamin C powder, washing soda
Caffenol, once mixed is supposed to be used within half an hour. Storage is not recommended.  Well I didn't test it so far but I have to trust the experience of others.
I am using Paterson dev tank which holds 0.5 l of dilution for one 120 film so my proportions (for 0.5L dev) are as follows:

- 27g of washing soda
- 8g of vitamin C
- 20g of instant coffee

This gives me Caffenol-C-M - for medium fast film. Tested here on Ilford Pan F Plus 50 and Ilford FP4+ 125.
Recommended dev - 15min, 20°C.
Proportions are adjustable depending obviously on quantity needed.

ready developer, Caffenol-C-M
It rather smells bad (maybe because of instant coffee which is obviously a fake one ;D haha) and makes quite a mess when spilled. Dilution however is very easy to prepare, extremely cheap, very efficient and gives just wonderful results. Beside that it’s quite flexible. Usually I have to be careful with average developer. Sometimes 2° or 3°C makes a huge difference, even in tolerant black and white negatives. The same with proportions. During my tests I developed two different films in developer mixed in the same way, with the same time and almost the same temperature. I am a bit impatient so I decided to go with a few degrees warmer dilution (warmer water makes everything easier to mix) and 1 min shorter dev time then recommended (Pan F Plus 50 - 14min, 22°C, FP4+ 14min 23°C). Stop bath and fixing is exactly the same as with ordinary developer.
I must admit I am more then happy with the results.
Looks like I am gonna remove all other developers from my monthly (photo) shopping list.
So now just a few random photographs as a proof of my words:

Yashica Mat-124G with Yashinon 80mm 3.5,
Ilford Pan F Plus 50 in Caffenol-C-M 14min, 22°C

Yashica Mat-124G with Yashinon 80mm 3.5,
Ilford Pan F Plus 50 in Caffenol-C-M 14min, 22°C

Hasselblad 500C/M with Planar 80mm T* CF 2.8,
Ilford FP4+ in Caffenol-C-M 14min, 23°C

Monday, 1 August 2011

Victorian Market

Walking through Dublin's north inner-city area, from O’Connell Street (Dublin’s main thoroughfare) towards Smithfield  we will see a beautiful Victorian building - The Fruit and Vegetable Market.

Main entrance, Mary's Lane
Building, opened in 1892, was designed by Spencer Harty (Dublin City Engineer, 1887-1910) and William Cranwill Wilson (Engineer and architect, of Dublin).

Market hall
The Market, owned now by Dublin City Council "is considered to be one of the finest expressions of the late Victorian approach to open plan buildings. The use of cast iron and glass was characteristic of the buildings of the time, epitomised by the Crystal Palace in London which was built for the Great Exhibition of 1851.” (info: The Capel Building).

Market hall, detail - the head of a column
You can have a look also at development plan for this area (DCC website): please click HERE (dowloadable in pdf format). Personally I found these documents quite dangerous (especially here in boom times) - demolish Everything and build..."something"! In this case looks like The Market is preserved. However everything around is dramatically over scaled. It's a history now anyway... at least for a while.

Gate, corner of St.Michan's Street and Mary's lane
I was photographing The Market Hall (second and third image) during a quiet afternoon. Ironically the most challenging to photograph was the most obvious place - main entrance (first image). It took me over two weeks since first visit there. It was almost impossible to set camera due to constant traffic, delivery trucks etc. Last Sunday (very early morning) I made another approach and finally I succeeded.

I would like to know a bit more about history of that
beautiful building, place full of life and bustle. Unfortunately available sources are a bit poor so if any of you have an access to some interesting information or details, please feel free to post it here in comments area or just email me. Thank you!

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

...a journey through time

Looks like i had quite a break since last post. Every time i though about new one i ended up doing something “more important”, which apparently distracted me from writing. But hey I am still here ;)
Me and my “specific” visual perception, with emphasized slightly darker, very often disliked part of the surrounding. Especially if we are talking about urban landscapes or landscapes at all. Such a places always draws my attention as they are obviously much more interesting. It's forcing to think deeply, to imagine...
During last couple of months I spent a few days in Poland. Even in that typical happy summery weather over there - about 30°C, sunny and stuffy days i managed to find and show places matching my aesthetic...empty, dark and in some way mysterious.
Truly short time. I can consider it however as a journey through the past. Through the places i know, where i grew up ...